Romeo was beginning to feel underappreciated. His special talent, of brawling on the streets, was not being particularly well-received in Verona. Having decided to find a place where people would get him, he shifted base with Juliet to Uttar Pradesh in search of #innerpeace, #yoganotyogi, #eatpraylove, and #spirituality. His feelings about UP, for the sake of hastening the narrative, can be summed up through the caption of his Instagram post of a bike with ‘dekho magar pyaar se’ written on the license plate: ‘Indian spring, love and laughter’.
Nevertheless, it was a happy time for the couple, as it was spring, and they sat around basking in the sunshine, singing:
“It was a lover and his lass,
With a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino,
That o’er the green corn-field did pass,
In the spring time, the only pretty ring time,
When birds do sing, hey ding a ding, ding;
Sweet lovers love the spring.”
Romeo had gone to get some poison juice, and Juliet found herself all alone. The police personnel in the area, seeing an unattended young woman, were hovering around in the interests of the ‘Anti-Romeo squad’, the interests of which they were enforcing with dedicated zeal, despite there being a slight problem: they were unsure about what exactly a Romeo was. And what did one do with a Romeo once they caught one? Most confusing, especially as it was entirely up to them to decide upon the properties of a Romeo, and what they should do when they found one. A logical argument was made and agreed upon; that this species could be identified by “the look in their eyes, their face and the way they stand”. Soon, Juliet called out, “Oh Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou, Romeo?” and Romeo hastened to her side. The police personnel’s ears pricked up. ‘It is a Romeo! We have found it!’ they cried, ran towards the couple, and surrounded them.
Romeo found himself picked up bodily by a police officer and was delighted, for here seemed to be an opportunity for a brawl. “Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?” he asked heatedly.
‘Don’t talk,’ replied the officer. ‘Go sit on the road, and do push-ups while holding your ears. This is how we punish young loiterers like you.’
‘Punish? But why? What has he done?’ questioned Juliet, who was a bit slow on the uptake.
‘He is harassing you, and we have to protect young women from their hormones and their boyfriends,’ said the officer.
‘But I’m clearly into him!’ cried Juliet. ‘That is to say, “My bounty is as boundless as the sea/ My love as deep; the more I give to thee/ The more I have, for both are infinite.”’
‘It is not up to you to decide that,’ snapped the police officer. ‘It is written in the manifesto that there will be anti-Romeo squads. This is a Romeo, now here is a squad. You are spreading immorality. And besides, “These violent delights have violent ends/And in their triumph die, like fire and powder/ Which, as they kiss, consume”’
“For never was a story of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo,” lamented Romeo, in handcuffs, as he was frogmarched to the police station.
‘No, stop! I trust Romeo! We have a deep level of trust and affection, because we’ve only looked at each other once before falling in love. We share a genuine friendship!’ pleaded Juliet.
All the police personnel exchanged knowing glances, and smiled, used to hearing this. ‘Madam,’ stated one of them, with the air of one who puts down a fundamental truth. ‘A boy and a girl can never be friends.’
Written by Anushmita Mohanty
Image by Stuti Pachisia